I recently read an article in Foreign Affairs titled, “The Capitol Siege Is the Wake-up Call America Shouldn’t Have Needed,” one of many articles analyzing how we arrived at a point where a mob would storm the U.S. Capitol. The author, Larry Diamond, states:
“… democrats should ponder how, even after four years of constant abuse of democratic norms and a tragically incompetent response to the coronavirus pandemic, Trump was able to secure more votes than any presidential candidate in American history save for Joe Biden. Part of the answer has to do with Trump’s craven enablers and hangers-on. Even the most charismatic demagogue cannot prevail on his own. He needs accomplices. It takes a party to subvert democracy.”
Diamond goes on to discuss how Trump’s loyalist accomplices have destroyed America, concluding with, “The health of American democracy now depends in part on whether Republican politicians will finally cease encouraging, excusing, and justifying the actions of this undemocratic leader who has given succor to democracy’s enemies at home and abroad.”
While this analysis is factual, it completely overlooks the current moment’s context and why Trump has power to begin with. The other “part of the answer” that goes undiscussed has to do with voters’ other options (or lack thereof), namely the authoritarian-socialist movement insurgent in the Democratic party that insists all opposition is either racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, greedy or anti-science — as if there are no other plausible reasons for differing opinions. This movement also believes the average American is unable to make informed decisions themselves and must have the facts carefully curated for them.
Like many people, I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 but felt compelled to do so in 2020. The reason for this change was Big Tech’s censorship of legitimate information exchange and the media’s refusal to investigate Democrats or publish stories critical of them. These practices represent genuine threats to democracy and have continued post-election.
The referenced article and others like it are quick to mention Trump’s statements that he would not accept the election outcome if he lost, but ignore Hillary Clinton’s statements that she would not advise Biden to concede if he lost, either. They also fail to recognize that left-wing groups rioted after Trump legitimately won election in 2016 and have a history of violence and seizing public spaces in demand for concessions to their policy agendas. To that end, businesses in major liberal cities were boarded up on Election Day out of fear that rioting would consume them. Simply put, there is a high likelihood that violent situations would have evolved from the left had Trump won.
Adding to this, for the past six months the country has been under the thumb of Black Lives Matter, which demands fealty to a world view that revolves around the false premise that America is a structurally racist nation and purports that race is the single most defining characteristic of American public life. When BLM and similar groups have instigated violence, it was covered as “mostly peaceful protests” in the media. When protesters took over city blocks — a practice reaching back to the 2000s Occupy Wall Street movement — liberals did not stand up for civil order. Similarly, there was no repudiation when these same groups assaulted Republicans leaving this year’s RNC. It’s not hard to see that “occupying” begets “mostly peaceful protests” begets political violence which begets storming the Capitol. Where did we honestly think this was going?
This article isn’t written to vindicate Trump or his enablers in any way, only to indict liberals, as well. Clearly, it’s not just Republicans who have demons in their closets.
As the referenced article demonstrates, a significant problem moving forward is that Big Tech, the media and liberal leaders spurn even a second of self-critical introspection and prefer to simply blame Republicans. Hopefully, Republicans can figure out their issues, but they will be unable to fix our country without good faith partners across the aisle.
At this critical moment, liberals must resist the temptation to enact extreme legislation. Instead, they should reflect on their own culpability, move to the center and seek to unite the country.
Both parties currently live in a swamp of their own making. They need each other to climb out.
Andrew Wells lives in Juneau.